PORTLAND — The question now becomes: Can the Silvertips beat the Winterhawks in Everett?
For the second time in eight days, Everett rode a disciplined performance and some sharp goaltending from Austin Lotz to an unexpected win in Portland.
Saturday's 3-2 win for Everett in front of 7,093 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum extends the first-round Western Hockey League playoff series to a Game 6 on Monday at Comcast Arena in Everett. If Everett wins, the series will come down to a Game 7 in Portland on Wednesday.
Such a scenario seemed highly unlikely after Portland won 11-4 on Friday in Everett. But the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs wasn't ready to call it a season.
"They were good tonight. Full credit to them the way they played it," Portland's Ty Rattie said. "It's just one of those games where pucks weren't bouncing for us."
Rattie had several apparent goals bounce the wrong way. In the third period, when the Winterhawks scored twice to cut into a 3-0 deficit, Rattie had a back-hand chance with Lotz down but couldn't lift the puck into the gaping net. And in the closing seconds of the game, Rattie saw the puck bounce off the goalpost from in tight.
"Bouncing puck. Being so hot out today, the ice wasn't the greatest," Rattie said, explaining his near misses. "The puck was bouncing and went off the post. Those are the bounces you're going to get or you're not going to get in the playoffs. Last game we were getting them, this game we weren't. It's just one of those things."
Brendan Leipsic deflected home a Derrick Pouliot shot 5:59 into the third period for Portland's first goal. It came on the Winterhawks' 40th shot on goal. Pouliot made it 3-2 with a blast 1:24 from the end of the game, scoring the team's second power-play goal of the period.
But Portland couldn't get that needed third goal.
Ultimately, the outcome turned in a matter of seconds in the second period. After Lotz denied a Rattie breakaway, Everett's Reid Petryk converted a breakaway at the other end for a 3-0 Silvertips lead.
One night after the Winterhawks blitzed the Silvertips 11-4 in Everett, Portland had trouble solving Lotz. For Everett, it was an effort similar to Game 1, which the Tips won 4-3. Everett scored once on an up-ice rush, once on a gift into an open net and once on a breakaway to lead 3-0 after two periods, and their trapping defense kept the Winterhawks' attack from getting to high percentage scoring areas.
Portland outshot Everett 45-18, including 30-9 over the second and third period. But it couldn't overcome an inconsistent first period.
"I thought in the first period, we didn't manage the puck that well," acting Winterhawks coach Travis Green said. "We had a lot of turnovers the first period. When we're on our game we're playing with the puck but we manage it a lot better than we did in the first period."
Everett led 2-0 at the end of the first period. Josh Winquist's sixth goal of the series made it 1-0 as he whistled a wrist shot past Carruth on a two-on-two rush at 10:19. The second goal was a gift as Logan Aasman tipped the puck into an unguarded goal.
The Winterhawks outscored the Silvertips 18-7 in winning Games 3 and 4 at Everett. Everett has had better luck quieting the Winterhawk offense in Portland, limiting Portland to three goals in Game 1 and two goals on Saturday.
"They kept us to the outside. They play that trapping style and we couldn't get around it the first half of the game," Pouliot said. "They were a good team tonight, and it's going to be that way the rest of the series."
A series that the Everett Silvertips have managed to extend.